Cow and coyote clothing causes controversy in Kirkland

KIRKLAND, Wash. — Municipalities face a multitude of problems, from proper zoning to adequate transportation to developing business ... but mandating an adequate dress code for a cow and coyote?  That is the newest dilemma the city of Kirkland has decided to take on.

The cow and coyote in question are actually quite famous in Kirkland. They make up a signature bronze statue in the heart of the downtown core.  And starting more than two years ago, two buddies named Terry Fletcher and Sue Contreras decided the statue could use some holiday cheer. And so the costume changes began.

The bronze bovine and coyote have worn pilgrim garb on Thanksgiving, four-leaf clovers on St. Patrick's Day, and, of course, assorted iterations of blue and green 12s on Seahawks game days.  People stop, laugh, take pictures. The costumes stay up for less than a week.  Everyone KIRO 7 talked to loves the budding tradition, except the Martins.

The Martins think it's disrespectful and that it defaces the art pieces. The husband and wife have made donations to the city's public art funds, and they lodged a formal complaint to the city. So the Kirkland Cultural Arts Commission decided to take up the issue at its monthly meeting.

The Martins are particularly bothered by the large cloth diaper they saw hanging from the coyote's bronze backside over Valentine's Day.

"Do tourists come to see trash?"  David Martin asked of the commission. "I just don't understand it."

Exasperated, Fletcher explained, "Cupid! The coyote is cupid for Valentine's Day. Sorry you didn't understand that."

And there was no further understanding between the two parties. One side thinks the statue's costumes bring the community together, make people feel more connected to the art, add some whimsy to the area. The other side thinks it's borderline vandalism.

Representatives from the city's parks department told the commission they have not received any other complaints about the statues' costumes. The feedback has been positive.

But the Commission thinks there needs to be some sensitivity around how the statues are dressed.  They want to make sure things stay tasteful. They are directing paid city staffers to research the issue and get back to them in a month.

Right now, the statue is naked.  It will get its shamrocks and green top hats for St Patrick's Day, but after that, things are up in the air. The next commission meeting is two days after that.  KIRO 7 will check to see if the commission takes action to draw up guidelines for dressing the statue.

Contreras will concede she was not happy with the Valentine’s Day costume. "That was a pathetic diaper."  But she already has a fix in the works. A friend with impressive sewing skills is working on a proper cupid costume for the coyote.  She's also putting together a huge 12 jersey for the heifer.

It's hard for the two women to believe that the city is now putting paid manpower into regulating the wardrobe after just one complaint.

"That shouldn't have gone to the cultural council," Contreras said.  "That's should've been thrown out. It's stupid.”

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